Professors, students to launch HU Student Life App

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a mobile app that gave HU students and staff a direct line to student services and other campus resources right at their fingertips?

And what if the same app allowed students to weigh in on the quality of student life, giving staff valuable information they need to help improve their experience on and off campus?

Just such a resource soon is coming to Harrisburg University thanks to Professors Philip Grim, Dr. Melanie Stegman, and several students who are harnessing a $20,000 Harrisburg University Presidential Research Grant to develop the HU Student Life App.

HU students and staff are pictured as they work to develop the HU Student Life App

“The application will provide access to, and information about, student services and resources,” said Grim, who teaches computer science at HU. “It will  collect information about what resources students are accessing or searching for, in order to assess what students are interested in and what their needs are, allowing us to improve the quality of services, to make sure students are aware of what’s available, and to raise the quality of the student experience.”

A prototype app currently is under development, and soon it will be demonstrated to the Student Services Department and Student Government representatives who will provide feedback. The team expects it to be available on Google Play and the Apple store this fall.

To start, the HU Student Life App will focus on student club management. It will give users the ability to propose a club, approve a club (for student government and student services representatives), schedule events for a club, become a member of a club, and view and search for events in a feed format. And by allowing the collection of information via a continuously updated set of data, staff will have the ability to analyze the needs of students.

“Student success at a university is a combination of positive personal, academic, and professional growth. Many universities employ various initiatives to achieve this goal, one of which is to provide a high-quality student life experience on campus. This experience comprises factors such as clubs, interest groups, availability of locally needed goods and services, academic or personal counseling, professional development guidance, other similar services, and being able to easily find them,” Grim said. And with the addition of data analytics, strategies to address these factors can be optimized to achieve better results.”

The Student Life App concept had been discussed among students and staff for several years. The project is an outgrowth of the 001 Club, a club for advanced programming students, which Grim and Dr. Stegman advise. App development started Jan. 1.

A bulk of the $20,000 presidential research grant is being used to pay the student developers, with the balance going toward costs of software licenses and compute resources.

The students involved in the project are managing the design and development of the application under the supervision of Grim and Dr. Stegman.  Grim and Dr. Stegman are filling the role of product owner. While senior students Bao Tran and Francisco Morales are acting as project managers. Students Zachary Pelke and Samuel Heybey are the development leads for the user interface and server components, respectively.

In addition to providing important hands-on experience to students and a great resource for students and staff, the development of the Student Life App will provide lasting support to the University, Grim added.

“Students and alumni who are engaged and who experience an elevated quality of life at an institution are often instrumental in new student recruiting and current student retention,” he said. “The effects of this application will help to ensure the stability and growth of the student body at Harrisburg University.”

About Harrisburg University

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology, and math fields. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email, Connect@HarrisburgU.edu.